October 24, 2014

How to Restart a Blog When You’ve Been on Hiatus for Three Years

Posted by: of Stephan on 05/14/13

I left my blog dormant for a few years, but I’m finally back in the saddle! I drafted up a post entitled “How to Restart a Blog When You’ve Been on Hiatus for Three Years” because it seemed fitting. Here are my main points to get you started:

1. Jump in and write something. No apologies. Or a lengthy explanation or justification for being off the grid.

2. Get some tools or processes in place that will make it as painless as possible to post. Like Dragon – which incidentally is available as an iPhone/iPad app.

3. Hire a virtual assistant if that will help you. (More on using VA’s in a future post).

4. Roll out a site redesign at the same time to let everybody know you’re reengaged and committed.

5. Don’t try to get all your readers all caught up on your life all in one post. You’ve got plenty of fodder for many blog posts – so save it for later.

6. Finally, silence the perfectionist in you. I have this bad habit of pouring over my blog posts – my articles even more so – trying to make them perfect. I put a dozen hours or more into articles on search engine land. That’s crazy. That’s not good use of your time. Much better to freeze all those great ideas and insights stuck in your head – share them with the world. It’s okay if the sentence structure isn’t always on the mark. It’s a blog post for Pete’s sake.

Sun CEO on Communication through Blogging

Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz gave a great keynote interview at the Web 2.0 Expo last month. He was interviewed by Tim O’Reilly. The 30 minute-plus interview covered a wide range of fascinating business- and technology-related topics, not the least of which was business blogging. The first five minutes after the introduction concentrate specifically on how Schwartz — whom O’Reilly called “One of the most senior bloggers around” in terms of business leadership — uses his blog to reach both employees and potential clients.

Jonathan Schwartz accepts blogging wholeheartedly, but rejects the word itself. “‘Blogging’ will at some point be a little anachronistic. I communicate. My number one job as a leader of a company is to communicate. You used to communicate by being the celebrity CEO, you flew around and spoke with heads of state, and got local media to cover it, and got your message out in an inefficient and environmentally irresponsible way. Then the Internet came along and gave you access to the whole planet all at the same time. So why not use the Internet as a way to communicate directly and authentically to the marketplace? Then I will have satisfied at least one portion of my job.”

Blogging doesn’t just communicate with the marketplace, though. Sun’s CEO also uses his company blog to communicate with the more than 32,000 Sun employees. When they have questions about business decisions, Jonathan can respond to both the company and the marketplace via his blog. “If you are going to lead, you must communicate,” he said in the interview. “You can communicate in many different ways, through your actions, through your products. The way I communicate is by using the spoken and written word.”

Schwartz is a genuine blogger — he’s very much against having the PR people do any writing for him. But do they mind that they’re not in control of his message? “I don’t think I’ve ever terrified our PR department, but I’ve terrified our securities department once or twice, and they’ve been very quick about telling me to put in a safe harbor statement at the beginning of the post, and then they make an SEC filing based on what I just said, but now we’re very practiced about this and that’s no longer the norm. I can get away with a link to a safe harbor statement now.”

The CEO isn’t the only blogger at Sun — more than 4300 people at the company, from marketing and HR staffers to high-level engineers and managers have blogs on the Sun Microsystems corporate site. Some of them are in languages other than English, and many of them are fascinating not solely as an insight into the internals of one of information technology’s founding companies, but as a collection of smart people who love to share ideas about a wide range of subjects. “The most terrifying day for me as a blogger was when our general counsel started writing a blog,” Schwartz said jokingly. “Actually that’s not true — he’s very thoughtful. And guess who reads his blog? Other general counsels.”

The rest of the interview covers Sun’s MySQL purchase and the integration of two businesses into one, Sun’s open source strategy, cloud computing, how giving away products for free gives insight into the market and access to potential hardware and services customers, utility computing, the evolution of high-performance computing, the “black box” data center, efficiency and power consumption (“[electricity] is the number two expense, next to people”), and how blogging helps inform people about all of these issues.

Good stuff!

If you’re a CEO, you’d do well to emulate Jonathan’s approach to business blogging.

Ten tips and strategies for social media for the Fortune 1000

Posted by: of A View from the Isle on 12/18/06

I’ve only recently started to get to know Jeremiah Owyang and his blog, something to do with the fact that he works at PodTech and I’ve just started blogging there.  Regardless Jeremiah has posted 10 (and I’d say killer) strategies for social media for the Fortune 1000 set.

1) Social Media is about people.
2)
Communities are the goal, conversations are the verb.
3)
Let go to gain more.
4) Measurement will be important.
5)
Organize internally.
6) Risk of the unknown.
7) Social Media goes deep in the organization.
8)
Social Media goes wide in the organization.
9)
Social Media spans time.
10) Social Media is not magic nor voodoo.

These are basic, simple and, I think, pragmatic.  Paul has a good series of e-mails going on this (B .L.  Ochman and Toby Bloomberg … and dern I owe him an e-mail) on this very topic.

I expect to see a lot more of this in 2007.

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Employee Blogs and the Law

In an article that’s sure to take the joy out of any blogging enterprise, Internet Business Law Services has posted Internet Law: Employee Blogs Pose Potential Problems for Businesses.

While I’m sure that a number of large businesses have experienced problems with employees’ blogs (the article references a few cases), maybe the first step a company should take when employees complain in their blog is to take their complaints seriously! (Of course, I run a small business; what do I know about keeping peons in their place?)

This article talks specifically about personal blogs that employees work on after hours (or perhaps when the boss isn’t looking.) They look at what happens when the employees blog about work, disparage co-workers, or share company secrets.
If you do run a large business, or you’ve given your employees good reason to despise you, the article does have some helpful hints on new entries for the employee handbook, like making sure employees who blog about work state that these are their own opinions and not that of the company, and not to reveal any trade secrets.

Unfortunately, the article doesn’t give any advice on keeping your employees happy, engaged, or giving them reasons to blog positive.

WordPress Enterprise Edition Built for Big Business

Automattic and KnowNow have partnered to launch a new blog platform that targets big business using the WordPress open source software. The new platform will be called KnowNow WordPress Enterprise Edition.

It appears that the new product will be aimed at the same audience that might be considering Six Apart’s Movable Type software. According to the slightly-over-the-top press release, “this partnership is critical to our Fortune 1000 enterprise customer base.”

Found through the Monkey Bites blog.

I don’t accept Edelman’s apology for the bogus Wal-Mart Blog…

I’m still amazed at this situation. Edelman PR, one of the premier public relations agencies in the world and a company that not only hired sharp blogger Steve Rubel but prides itself on really understanding the new world of Web 2.0 and the blogosphere, screwed up royally, and no-one seems to be particularly upset.

The situation: They created the Walmarting Across America blog which pretended to be a couple of middle aged RV enthusiasts driving from Wal-Mart to Wal-Mart and blogging about their experiences, mostly with how wonderful Wal-Mart was. No surprise, the blog effort was a campaign paid for by Wal-Mart!

When it came out that it was a fake blog and that Edelman was being duplicitous and tricking people, it also became obvious that they’d violated the very code of Word of Mouth Marketing ethics they’d helped create.

The response of the blogosphere? Oh, Richard Edelman apologized, and Steve Rubel said he had nothing to do with the account or the campaign. And all is well. Or is it?

If you want to have an example of the class structure within the blogosphere, go and read how top bloggers like Debbie Weil, Neville Hobson and Robert Scoble are not just accepting Edelman’s apology, but being apologists for the company themselves. What the heck?

I don’t agree. I think that there’s a much bigger issue of ethical consistency, of leadership and of hypocrisy, and I write about it at length on my main blog: Edelman screws up with Duplicitous Wal-Mart Blog, but it’s okay?

Blog Inside: IT@Intel Joins the Blogosphere

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on 10/12/06

There is a new arrival on the corporate, indeed Fortune 500, blog scene – the IT@Intel Blog.

The site will probably not appeal to people who want the full array of possible effects – audio, video mashups etc. Because unlike the groovy, dancing main Intel site, the IT@Intel blog is visually and organizationally sparer, along the lines of the related IT@Intel web site.

The blog uses MovableType’s Enterprise 1.3 platform, but again the graphic presentation is quite unlike some other corporate blogs using MT Enterprise, such as the rather jazzy GM FastLane blog.

The appropriateness of the IT@Intel Blog’s very neat design becomes evident when you see that, although this is a public blog, it appears to be aimed not so much at the general public as at the IT community and people with related interests.

And although I am not an IT engineer, and I like my rococo in its place, for me the visual spareness of the blog’s layout reflects a pleasingly elegant clarity of architecture and navigation.

There is a simply stated manifesto of guiding principles:

  • We will provide unique, individual perspectives on what’s going on at Intel and in the world;
  • We will post comments, except for spam and remarks that are off-topic, denigrating or offensive;
  • We will reply to comments promptly, when appropriate;
  • We will respect proprietary information and confidentiality; and
  • We will be respectful when disagreeing with others’ opinions.

For anyone who thinks that’s a bit light on for a corporate blog, never fear. There is a more extended and decidedly heavier statement in the legal page, whose phrasing, with its caveats and warnings, reminds us that this blog is indeed a corporate one.

The neat architecture is expressed in the simplicity of layout. The navigation menu along the top has just five items, so whatever your interest in the blog you can find your way there quickly – no need for head-scratching:

  • Recent Posts
  • About the Blog
  • Meet the Bloggers
  • Archives
  • Contact us

And as indicated above, other than the almost monochrome banner there are no pictures, no audio, no videos.

One other comment on underlying concepts and architecture is that the URL structure, http://blogs.intel.com/it/, allows nicely for any number of additional blogs to be created within the Intel blogs framework. Admittedly that’s not a big revelation from an IT engineering-based company, but it is a handy reminder of the value of thinking through structure and architecture before launching any blog in the business space.

There are four bloggers listed and posting at the IT@Intel blog, enough presumably to spread the load but not so many as to make it a case of “everyone’s responsibility is no one’s”. All have titles that indicate a high, or reasonably high level of seniority in the corporation (I don’t know the corporate structure or Intel’s policy on titles). And all are apparently working in an IT engineering or user experience framework. No one from marketing.

It is noticeable that there are no buttons or icons, not even a modest orange button for XML/RSS.

I like the way they have set up the sidebar with six elements, each in its own text box: Most Popular Tags, Recent Comments, Most Active Posts, Blogroll, Related Links, and Subscribe.

The treatment of the tags is interesting – no cloud in the sidebar, just four tags and a link to All Tags for anyone who really needs a cloud to make their day. There are only seven blogs in the Blogroll (that would have been an interesting discussion to be a fly on the wall for, surely – who’s in, who’s out?), only six Related Links and a simple, linked list of basic feed options in the Subscribe box, including a “What are feeds?” text link to a clear explanation on a separate page.

And content? Style?

Early days, but I liked what I read. Four individuals, each with a different style and each evidently keen to make his (yes, all males) mark as a blogger.

But they might have to up their rate. Four posts on October 9 and, at this posting, none since, is not exactly off to the races, guys. But those four posts have already attracted a number of supportive comments. So I hope the bloggers are encouraged by that and produce more, and more frequent, posts.

Pickedup from a Techwhack story via Google Alerts.

Is It OK to Ghostwrite a CEO Blog?

Posted by: of BlogWrite for CEOs on 09/18/06

I’m moderating a discussion this week about CEO Blogging over on the IAOC blog. I’d love to hear your two cents on the numerous questions surrounding this topic du jour.

First question: Is it OK to ghostwrite a CEO blog? Waddya think? Click here to jump into the discussion.

Fortune 500 CEO blogger Jonathan Schwartz was quoted over the weekend in an AP story by Rachel Konrad titled Sun CEO Among the Few Chiefs Who Blog:

“The blog has become for me the single most effective vehicle to communicate to all of our constituencies – developers, media, analysts and shareholders,” Schwartz said in an interview in his Silicon Valley office. “When I go out and have dinner with a key analyst on Wall Street or a key investor from Europe and ask them if they’ve read my blog, they almost universally say yes.”

Check out my backstory on Rachel’s article, which ran in dozens of newspapers, as well as links to a list of CEO bloggers, etc. Dave Taylor and I were both quoted in the AP story.

Sorry Strumpette, Your Corporate Blogging’s Dead Riff Is Oh So Clever But It’s Not accurate

Posted by: of BlogWrite for CEOs on 07/26/06

Strumpy (aka Amanda Chapel / anonymous PR blogger / tall, athletic, Pantene shoulder-length black hair, perfect perky boobs – ed. note: you’ve got to be kidding) is all fired up today with his/her new meme: The Death of Corporate Blogging.

God, (s)he’s clever the way she/he/it writes.

But (s)he’s wrong: corporate blogging – or at least the widespread use of blogging as a business communications tool is NOT dead. And I’m not just saying that because my new book, The Corporate Blogging Book (Penguin Portfolio August 2006), is coming out next week.

Well OK that’s one reason I’m saying it.

Corporate blogging is just getting started

The real reason is oh so simple. Far from being dead, corporate blogging – the use of a blog either internally or externally as part of a company’s online communications and marketing toolkit – is just getting started.

As Ken Yarmosh, who live-blogged my Washington DC book launch yesterday, put it:

“Despite the echoes we often hear in the halls of geek-dom, the blogosphere is not saturated yet. There are many, many more voices to come, blogging on everything from finance to real estate, to yes, even air conditioners. And I know, because I’ve met them this afternoon.” – Ken Y.

Look, I’m sifting through the stack of business cards I got yesterday and here are the kinds of corporate blogging wannabes who attended (I won’t use specific names out of respect for their privacy): commercial real estate, attorney-at-law, non-profit foundation, custom publishing group, government affairs office, board of trade, three or four national associations and so on.

Strumpy, read my book

Strumpy, read my book for god’s sake and maybe you’ll get it. I make a lot of points. Three of the key ones are this:

It’s not about being cool

Corporate blogging is not about being cool. It’s about following your customers where they’re going… and that’s online. You gotta be there to interact with your customers. It’s that simple. Blogging enables an instant (or almost) conversation with them. And that’s what people want. They want to be heard. They want to be acknowledged. Then they’re more apt to do business with you and your organization.

A blog is just a publishing platform
A blog is just a platform, a powerful, simple, inexpensive Web publishing system. Why in heck wouldn’t most companies adopt this platform? Call it Web 2.0. Call it common sense. Call it budget cutting. Who needs a whole IT department that takes months to update a page on a corporate site, when a non-techie manager can do it in minutes with blogging software?

Customers are driving this – not consultants
The new world that PR practitioners, marketing strategists and other consultants are touting is here. We haven’t concocted it as a way to line our pockets with gold. Marketing has become a two-way conversation between customer and corporation. The big guys at the top have lost control or at least complete control. A lot of the best creative stuff (new ideas, great writing) is bubbling up from below.

With 40,000 or 60,000 or whatever new videos being posted everyday to YouTube, with trackbacks and tagging and RSS and digging and Technorati and del.ici.ous and all that cool stuff innovating, fine tuning and becoming easier for the non-techie to use every day… well I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that corporate blogging is here to stay.

Remember, those ordinary people are customers. They’re driving this thing. Not the corporate blogging consultants.

Sorry Strumpy, stuff it.

Update: See here.
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Yo Ho Ho and a Blogger with Rum

Posted by: of One By One Media on 06/14/06

Bacardi Canada has joined the blogosphere, but in a somewhat unorthodox manner. They have hired Dave, in a move that is similar to other campaigns such as the Captain Morgan Blog (now visiting Davy Jones’ locker). I have heard the term coined as character bloggers by my partner and colleague Tris Hussey in describing this type of blogger. Dave is not a representative of the company, in fact they are apparently paying him partially in product to be their blogger.

Rick Bruner, our fearless leader here at BBC states:

“If you think of blogs outside of the marketing context — just your ordinary person writing a journal online — they tend to be nothing more than honest and transparent, individual and personal.

“And when companies try to fake that for marketing purposes and try to, in a sense, hoodwink readers into thinking it’s something it’s not, in many cases bloggers tend to react very badly.

In fact a contributor here Dave Taylor boils it down to:

“I think it’s a little naïve to think that … every blog has to be real and genuine from a real person that you could meet on the street or go have lunch with,” notes Taylor.

“A blog is just a tool. There’s nothing special about it. There’s nothing magic. It doesn’t re- invent corporations. It doesn’t fundamentally change anything.

“It’s up to people and up to companies to come up with interesting and creative ways to utilize the tool.”

Steve Rubel of Micropersuasion and Senior VP at Edelman says the right way to use the tool as referred to by Taylor is to have some executive in the company be the blogger:

“Corporate blogs, whether they come from the executives or employees or customers, are tremendous.”

This wouldn’t be the first time I disagreed with Steve, but I think that hiring a blogger when you don’t have the ability is a smart move. Some companies don’t have the manpower or someone in the organization that is equipped to handle the duties of a blogger. Blogger are at the moment a rare breed. They are a mixture of writer, public relation specialist, advertiser and IT person. Not every company has this in their arsenal of employees.

I agree completely with Rick’s thoughts:

“If you’re doing something trying to be funny, then be really funny, not just kind of mild funny that the marketing department and the legal department and the HR department are going to sign off on as funny,” he says. “That’s not funny.”

Give this blogger a little time to perform, but as a character blogger goes, I find him to be amateurish towards his approach and the quality of the conversation lacking. Perhaps when he is in a drunken stupor from the client’s product or it is wages, he might actually submit something that is his own and not just another blog that is trying to act like a myspace.com knock off.

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Net Neutrality and Your Business Blog

A couple days back I posted “Net Neutrality and Small Business on the Web” at flyte’s blog, alerting small business owners and entrepreneurs about some legislation that might affect their online business.

I stood up for net neutrality, the idea that all information should be treated equally on the net, and that ISP’s like Verizon and AT&T shouldn’t be able to give preferential treatment to their partners and other large corporations willing to pay a premium for such a benefit. In my mind, changing the current method (which Verizon and AT&T are lobbying hard for) hurts small business.

Within hours there were five comments at my blog (which is a lot for me): four against and one for. (And I wrote that one!)

Commentors questioned why the government should be interfering with yet another aspect of our lives (point well taken) and felt the market should sort it out. Some felt we should leave well enough alone. However, it seems to me that big ISP’s are lobbying for a change to the current system.

Just a few moments ago I got an email from Andy Wibbels — a smart guy if ever there was one — asking for support of net neutrality. Andy asks us to “imagine if the eletric company made your refrigerator run slower if it wasn’t a Whirlpool brand.”

Alternatively, imagine if the passing lane on a highway could only be used by giant corporation’s trucks, and all other traffic needed to take side streets.

What if your competition was a Verizon partner and their blog came up faster in a browser at the expense of your own? GM’s FastLane Blog might benefit from this change, but probably not your blog.

Well, now you’ve heard those in favor of net neutrality. What do the rest of you think?

Wells Fargo Launches a Blog to Observe 100th Anniversary of San Francisco’s 1906 Great Earthquake and Fire

Posted by: of BlogWrite for CEOs on 03/14/06

Wells Fargo is offering a sneak preview of the blog it launches tomorrow as part of the bank’s commemoration of San Francisco’s Great Fire & Earthquake of 1906. Guided By History, as the blog is called, is a group blog. It’s a great idea for an event-specific (and time-limited) blog. And yes, Wells Fargo appears to be the first Fortune 500 financial services company to launch a public blog.

I counted 10 contributors on the About page, including Wells Fargo’s new president and COO, John Stumpf. He’s made one of the first entries, titled A Ride Through History. It’s a bit too polished to qualify as “bloggy” in style but it’s pretty interesting. The 1906 earthquake and fire left half of San Francisco’s residents homeless and destroyed 490 city blocks, including Wells Fargo’s headquarters…

More

Transparency? Bob Lutz mentions GM’s “financial state” on FastLane blog

Posted by: of BlogWrite for CEOs on 02/21/06

If you haven’t checked in lately with GM’s top blogger Bob Lutz (he’s GM’s global vice president for product development), head on over to FastLane right now. His most recent entry – Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before – is a cogent rant on GM’s “image” problem. He comes about as close as he can to acknowledging the elephant in the room (GM’s financial woes). He writes:

This issue, this question of how do we increase awareness, improve our image, and enhance public opinion of our cars and trucks, is weighing on everyone’s mind in this company, from the plant floors to the boardroom. We are all weary of hearing that “GM doesn’t have any vehicles that people want� or that GM “doesn’t excite anyone� or doesn’t have any products that are “relevant.�

And then further on, after citing a bunch of recent awards for GM cars (the Solstice, the Corvette, the Hummer):

And yet, the coverage of our financial state [I bolded this] continues to point out our alleged lack of cars and trucks that people want. All the while more than a quarter of the vehicles sold in America are ours.

And finally:

We need to step up our non-traditional communications and word of mouth, and get our message directly to the people on a grass roots level. This blog is one example — but we need more avenues, and bigger ideas. What do you think?

I don’t know about you but that sounds pretty transparent to me for a Fortune 500 blog. Translation: we’ve got a problem. Can you help? So far, 178 readers have left comments on this entry. Fascinating to read: lots of specifics, on warranties, 1-day take-home test drives, tips on how to deal with MSM’s approach to the GM death spiral story, etc.

And the word-of-mouth on WOMMA’s Florida conference is…

Posted by: of BlogWrite for CEOs on 01/20/06

Lots of buzz. Lots of folks.

Word-of-mouth-marketing (WOMM), Florida warmth & sun and a bunch of online experts… including our very own Toby Bloomberg, Josh Hallett and Dana VanDen Heuvel who are live blogging the Word of Mouth Marketing Association‘s conference in Orlando. (Dana is one of the lead bloggers.) What more could you ask for?

Check out the WOMBAT (Word of Mouth Basic Training) conference blog. Day 1 here. Day 2 here. They’ve got a full crowd of international attendees and speakers. 400 people according to conference organizer and WOMMA ceo Andy Sernovitz. Wish I were there…

Note: there are lots of posts on the WOMBAT blog. You’ll have to poke around. A sampling: Women and WOMM; B2B and WOMM; WOMM and ethics; WOM and blogging.

Also see Technorati.

Bottom line: WOMM has come into its own as a separate and defined marketing niche. The notion that this form of marketing can be codified and measured is fascinating. Stay tuned…

So what’s holding the Fortune 500 back from blogging?

Posted by: of BlogWrite for CEOs on 01/20/06

David Kline, co-author of one of the handful of books published thus far on blogging (Blog! How the Newest Media Revolution Is Changing Politics, Business and Culture) emailed me this week to ask for a quote for the article he’s working on about what’s holding the F500 back from blogging and what it will take for blogging to go mainstream. He referenced the Fortune 500 Business Blogging Wiki’s stat that only 3% of F500s are blogging. I responded with the following mini rant:

Fear & blogging on the blogosphere Long Tail
(with apologies to Hunter S. Thompson)

Fear is the single most important thing holding corporate America back from embracing blogging. Fear of being open, fear of a two-way conversation, fear of not being able to control the message, fear of the time commitment. Just makes sense. If you put blogging in the basket of corporate communications it runs absolutely antithetical to so-called current best practices.

So what will make this change? Again, fear. Fear of not embracing the new media technologies which so many consumers are now adopting, whether it’s a video iPod or a blog. Fear of not being where your customers are. Which, increasingly, is online.

Well, that’s my thought for the day. Now back to cleaning up the mess on my desk… Oh, and don’t misunderstand. I’m not being critical of the F500s efforts thus far to launch blogs. Just realistic.

Fortune 500 Blog Wiki

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 12/31/05

Earlier this year, I put out a call on this site as to how many of the Fortune 500 companies were blogging. I guessed "somewhere in the 3-6% range currently." Yesterday I got an email from Wired Magazine’s editor-in-chief, Chris Anderson, saying that he had wondered the same thing over dinner with Doc Searls. More specifically, they wondered whether companies that were thriving did not blog because they had less to gain from such openness while companies fighting to grow or regain market share were more inclined to blog, and whether this was a trend that could be correlated to companies’ business performance. So, Anderson set some Wired interns to the task and came up with this post describing what they found. Further, together with Ross Mayfield at Socialtext, they created the Fortune 500 Business Blogging Wiki to keep track of the trend. (I’m gratified to note that my original estimate seems to be holding true: the collaborative effort has identified public blogs at 4% of the Fortune 500 firms.)

GM’s Smallblock Engine blog shuts down, but that’s OK

Posted by: of BlogWrite for CEOs on 11/3/05

GM’s Smallblock Engine blog shuts down tomorrow today after exactly one year, perhaps the first highly-publicized Fortune 500 blog to bite the dust. This sounds like a natural death. It was an event-driven blog, created for the 50th anniversary of the Corvette’s small-block engine. And the party is over. Makes sense. (Dave Hill, chief engineer of the Corvette, is also retiring which kind of wraps it up nicely.)

You could say it created a category for corporate blogs: event-specific and time-limited. It never got a huge number of comments from readers. But that’s OK too. Remember, a blog is just a tool. Use it anyway you want as long as you make it a good read, you’re honest and a bit of passion shows through.

Addendum: in April 2005, halfway through the year, the GM folks blogged about whether or not to turn the smallblock engine blog into a powertrain blog. A number of commenters said "oh, yes please do!" But one guy left an astute remark:

"Keep to one topic… don’t try to take on too much in one blog."

Here’s Rick Bruner’s Nov. 2004 post crowing about the launch of the Smallblock Engine blog:

"This is big: the biggest car company in the world now has a blog… "

SixApart’s Mena and Ben Trott explain current problems with TypePad

Posted by: of BlogWrite for CEOs on 10/27/05

Update (2 days later): SixApart’s CEO Barak Berkowitz provides more details. He posted his Message from the CEO to the TypePad blog and also sent it in an HTML email to customers:

Dear Debbie,  

As you might know, some of our users have been experiencing slow performance with the TypePad service over the past few weeks…

Pretty nice. To back up a minute… we (meaning a bunch of contributors to this blog) are taking partial credit for these blogged
responses from SixApart. We started complaining vociferously on
Wednesday Oct. 26th (first me and then Tris Hussey, Rich Brooks, Toby Bloomberg and Paul Chaney) about the recent slowness and outages with TypePad, SixApart’s popular hosted blogging service.

The result? SixApart co-founders Mena and Ben Trott posted a reponse,
the first real explanation we’ve gotten from the company after several
weeks of problems with TypePad. The number of TypePad blogs and the
activity on them (the good news) has outstripped their server capacity
(the bad news), they tell us. They’re working to move TypePad to a new
data center (which hasn’t been going smoothly).

Moral of the story? The blogosphere works. You kvetch enough. You get everybody’s attention. (Addendum: we’re quite pleased with the effect of our buzz campaign.) Now let’s  hope they can fix the problems…

Backstory
I sent Anil Dash
(a SixApart VP) several emails yesterday begging him to "listen up" and
to make lemonade out of lemons, so to speak. Anil is a friend and
colleague. I suggested he get the top dogs at 6A to acknowledge the
recent problems and address them more transparently than the cryptic
messages we get on 6A’s Status Weblog about "temporary service degradation."

He listened.

Another
takeaway… there are many channels of communication. You need to use a
combination of public and private ones. The blogosphere is a very very
public place. It’s not right for everything.

Listen up SixApart: some of your TypePad customers may switch

Posted by: of BlogWrite for CEOs on 10/26/05

Update: SixApart’s Anil Dash responds.

As I wrote here and here a few weeks ago, I’m one of thousands running a business blog on TypePad. The service has been excruciatingly slow of late. (Just now I thought I’d tear my hair out while waiting for this post to Save.) Sometimes it’s down altogether.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not a “trash 6A” blog entry. It’s a please please please listen to your customers before it’s too late message. The buzz is building. There’s talk of moving some high-profile blogs (including this one) to WordPress or another platform.

My advice? Post fast. Post fresh. Be transparent. The blogosphere is gonna bite if you don’t. And get something up on your Status Blog (which, BTW, doesn’t have an archive so it’s conspicuously not quite a blog) or on Mena’s Corner that acknowledges the problem.

C’mon guys. We love you! Don’t disappoint.

Companies Drool for Brand Blogs

Posted by: of AndyWibbels.com on 10/24/05

The New York Times has an overview on a blogging phenom: brand blogs. Take Michael Marx, for example:

"I’ve been drinking Barq’s for 15 years. It’s my beer," said Mr. Marx, who started his blog, thebarqsman.com, last year to collect news about Barq’s, commercials he likes for the drink and musings on why he thinks Barq’s is the best. As
the number of blogs has grown, more consumers like Mr. Marx are keeping
Web diaries dedicated exclusively to their favorite brands.

Juicy detail: Coca-Cola (owner of Barq’s) didn’t know about the blog. Free tip: Use Feedster, y’all.

Isn’t this the Holy Grail of marketing? Customers freely promoting and glorifying your brand?

Most consumers are searching for unbiased opinions, a niche that blogs
can fill. A testimonial from one blogger can speak directly to readers
in a way advertising does not.

Granted, bloggers can still criticize the brand with the same tools.

Also mentioned:

New corporate blogging survey grossly inflates percentage of companies that are blogging

Posted by: of BlogWrite for CEOs on 10/20/05

Sorry, I can’t let this one pass. As much as I’d like to believe the reported results of the iUpload and Guidewire Group Corporate Blogging Survey released this week, I can’t. The survey reports that 89% of companies are blogging. And that corporate adoption of blogging is entering the hyper growth phase.

Here’s the rub. The conclusions are based on 140 respondents. That’s far too small a number from which to draw such a sweeping conclusion. In addition, the way the survey was conducted taints the results. DoubleClick research director Rick Bruner (yes, Rick is the brains behind this blog!) spoke with Mike Sigal of Guidewire Group to find out more. Rick emailed me the following:

"I think the sample size is less of an issue than the sample recruitment methodology…

Oh, and not so coincidentally, perhaps, iUpload sells an enterprise blogging platform. Download the  iUpload and Guidewire Group Corporate Blogging Survey here.

…He [Mike] said they sent out invitations from some
mailing list that should have been representative of the Fortune 500…
But they also put the word out to lots of [bloggers], who posted about
the survey on their blogs. Meaning that a significant number of
respondents were self-selected. Hence, it’s likely that companies who
are particularly tuned into business blogs were more likely to respond."

Makes
sense, doesn’t it? I know I was one of the respondents who took the
survey and I suspect every blogging "consultant" or expert also took it
just to see what questions were being asked. Add up the number of non-corporate respondents to the survey and I wager you’re well under 100 statistically valid responses.

In comparison, I got over 700 responses [PDF of results] to a survey I ran last summer on business blogging. The clearest result from that survey: Time is the top Fear Factor when it comes to corporate blogging.
Other results: 55% of respondents said blogging will become a
"must-have" corporate marketing tool. But it’s not quite here yet. My
survey was publicized to the 15,000-plus subscribers to my
e-newsletter, WordBiz Report.

Download the survey
You can download the iUpload and Guidewire Group Corporate Blogging Survey here. Read with a grain of salt. Then do leave a comment below. Would love to hear your thoughts.

 

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